What annoys me about this Meghan McCain article (via here) is not that I feel the urge to get a red pen (or perhaps an old priest and a young priest*). Coherent writing on the Internet is not… precisely unknown; but neither is it particularly reliable. You have to accept that there are a lot of people out there who cannot really write. Some of them do so for an audience. Insanely, some of them even get paid.
No, the annoying bit is that there’s an actual point in McCain’s essay, crying in the dark because it’s surrounded by slightly oozy fluff: Sarah Palin is manipulating the New Media paradigm in a fashion that not even Obama has, or possibly even can.
I know that this sounds counter-intuitive – we were certainly told over and over again that the President is the master of this particular domain – but consider the 2008 campaign for a minute. There was a lot of online fundraising, a lot of third-party hero worship, and a lot of social networking inside the campaign… but nailing the candidate down to actual positions was a bit hard. I can speak from personal experience that when asked about a specific policy stance the average Obama supporter would respond with either his or her own position, or a breezy “Oh, you can check that out on the website” – which was Obama-supporter for “I don’t have a clue.” In other words, Obama’s success was in insinuating himself into enough Americans’ mental landscapes; he was protean, and thus able to be portrayed as whatever a supporter wanted him to be. Which works rather well when one is running what was essentially an emotion-based campaign.
Former Governor Palin is instead demonstrating that she is a mistress of being iconic, in a way that honestly we haven’t seen since Reagan. There is a definite Palin ‘brand’ – and it’s everywhere by now. Case in point: I’ve never had to explain who I mean when I type out THAT WOMAN. Everybody knows. There’s only one of ’em, which is why I do it. And if THAT WOMAN runs she will probably unpleasantly surprise a large number of people who are currently smugly certain that they can define her any way that they like**.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I mean, seriously:
This is her strategy, and yes, she is running for president. See her recent interview with Barbara Walters, in which she stated that she believes she “could beat President Obama in 2012” if you need any other assurances.
Does the Daily Beast actually have copy-editors? And if they do, are they ever sober?
**I don’t know whether Sarah Palin would successfully use her mastery of New Media to get elected, assuming that she runs in the first place. Then again, Howard Dean did not successfully use his mastery of online fundraising to get elected – but Obama did, and everybody in the game uses Dean’s techniques now.